In a 51 to 48 vote, the Senate confirmed Kristen Clarke on Tuesday to be the Justice Department’s civil rights chief.
This position puts Clarke in charge of investigating police abuses and enforcing voting rights laws and federal statutes prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, religion and other factors.
Ironically enough, the Biden nominee previously endorsed proposals to “defund the police” in a 2020 Newsweek op-ed, according to the National Review.
Clarke was grilled about it during the hearing.
“I do not support defunding the police,” Clarke said in response to a question from Sen. Cruz. “The impetus for writing that op-ed was to make clear that I do not support defunding the police.” She added that she instead wants to “channel resources to places such as mental health treatment.”
She blamed editors for choosing a poor headline: “I Prosecuted Police Killings. Defund the Police – But Be Strategic.”
However, Cruz noted that she had written three separate times throughout the piece that “we must invest less in police” and more in social services.
Clarke, the first black woman to fill the significant position, steps into the role at a critical time in our nation after a year of protest over police treatment of black citizens.
Indeed, Senate republicans have been critical of Clarke and whether she can be a nonpartisan enforcer of civil rights.
“A vote for Kristen Clarke is a vote to defund the police,” Sen. Tom Cotton said before the vote.
Sen. Susan Collins was the only republican to vote alongside democrats in support of Clarke’s confirmation, USA Today reports.